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Being NumerousPoetry and the Ground of Social Life$
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Oren Izenberg

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691144832

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691144832.001.0001

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We Are Reading

We Are Reading

(p.164) Chapter Five We Are Reading
Being Numerous

Oren Izenberg

Princeton University Press

In this concluding chapter, the author makes a sort of experiment in imagining his argument about the history of poetry as a prescription for reading rather than writing. The author addresses the two concerns he has raised in this book: to think about the nature or structure of collective intentions, and to offer a defense of a kind of intense and deliberated inattention to poems. The discussion is partly autobiographical, taking the author's own use and abuse of poetry as a case study. The author reflects on how he sought to read a poem, A. R. Ammons's Tape for the Turn of the Year with another person, but at a distance—“together apart.” He explains how reading poems together may promote an attitude of indifference toward the specificity of any poem in the greater interest of solidarity with other persons. He also proposes an alternative to models of poetic community built around conversation, interpretation, or translation.

Keywords:   poetry, reading, collective intention, inattention, A. R. Ammons, person, poetic community, conversation, interpretation, translation

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